11 February, 2016

Extra Pull Key Fob Tutorial

 These Key Fobs are fun to make. 

Getting the zipper pulls on can be fiddly but I love the end result. As someone who fidgets, unzipping and arranging the pulls and then zipping it  back together are fun for me.

You'll need:

  • Zipper (10 inches or longer). I used a 22"  YKK brand. 
  • Extra zipper pulls.               Atkinson brand with YKK pulls 
  • Key Fob Hardware               Bought on etsy. 
  • Scrap fabric 1 7/8 inches wide by length of zipper tape. I used a Liberty print.
  • SF 101 Interfacing.                Bought at Joann's

 I found a little light interfacing gave me the firmness I wanted in this keyfob. My go-to is SF 101 (pellon product). Iron this to wrong side of fabric strip. To help with bulk at center when folding, I cut my interfacing narrower than the fabric.

 I'm trying to decide which zipper tape color goes best with my Liberty fabric. Purple, Orange, Hot Pink???

You'll need to cut off the top and bottom metal stops on your zipper. Unzip the pull all the way off. You are left with two tapes.

Sandwich your zipper tape inside the Fabric trim. Sew and top-stitch. I don't have to use my zipper foot on my machine. I can move the needle over to the far left. That way the foot rides evenly on the fabric strip and doesn't get all lumpy-bumpy with the zipper teeth.

If you can't move your needle over, switch to your zipper foot to sew this fabric trim.

I used two parallel lines of top-stitching, I could have used one. Or, a decorative stitch on my machine.

 Okay - here are the fiddly bits.

You can google, "How do I put a zipper pull back on" to find a lot of youtube videos. I like the one by Erin Erickson of DUMD (Dog Under My Desk) Sewing patterns.
{I don't think my left hand is up to taking video as well as close-ups}.

I'll try to explain the process. Zipper teeth need to interlock with each other. One side of your tape will be higher than the other. Always start with that same side for each subsequent zipper pull.

Don't mind the messy ends, you will trim these later. You might even trim them while your giant hands try to fiddle with tiny teeth.

Slip the top of the pull on whichever side you decide to start with. Slide until you hear a little click. Two clicks is also okay. Take the other end of the zipper tape and start it. The first side is easy, the second side is a lot tougher. There isn't as much room in the pull for two tapes.

Try pulling on your left tape to give the second tape room to maneuver. Try using the pad of your finger to tap the bottom end of the pull while tugging the left over and maneuvering the rightside into the pull.  Are your fingers getting more clumsy?  Take a deep breath and repeat.  If you listen carefully, you will hear the "click" as the second side engages.

If you totally have nylon coils disintegrating, trim off the end and start again.
At some point after hearing the 'click' of the second end, you will be able to pull the tab and zip it up the tape.

It does get easier now that I've made half a dozen. Just remember to breathe.

 The first pull zips up the teeth. Carefully, tug the tapes apart at the end where you start the zipper pull and do the next pull. If you start on the opposite side, it will create a little gaposis. If you start it on the same side as before, it looks straighter.


 You can buy key fob hardware pliers for $20 and up, or like me, I use pliers I found in the hangar. I put masking tape on the jaws to soften the teeth. I also use a scrap of fabric to try not to mar the shiny fob hardware.

 Once you have your fabric butted up inside the fob hardware, you want to squeeze gently all over the hardware. Don't do one place at a time. Gradual squeezing on the left, then on the right - make sure your fabric is straight, squeeze again until it's all tight.

Some people use glue also but I've never had one pop out so I skip the glue.

 I used a 22" zipper, sewed my fabric trim on, then cut it in half to make two key fobs.

 See how the front one is twisting towards the camera - this is one reason I used interfacing. I think with time and use, it will lie flatter.

These are the pulls I ordered. YKK brand pulls mix well with YKK zippers.

I ordered the key fob hardware on etsy years ago - I still have some. I did have to google search for the zipper pulls and then bought the cheapest one. I haven't seen these colored pulls in a store. The zippers are usually in stash or if I have to order some - then I generally use ZipIt on etsy.

I would love to see ones you've made. Throw a photo at  me in the comments or by email or Instagram (sidebar).

This is an easy project for gifts.

I'm linking up with Sew and Sow's Saturday linky party:
Sew and Sow Farm


  1. You make the most interesting things! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  2. Very cool indeed! Thanks for the tutorial!

  3. Most excellent tute, Kimosabi. Will give it a try this week! (I liked Gaposis, too.)

  4. What a cool idea.I have never thought of changing, or adding zipper pulls. Now I know you can, there's lots of possibilities. Thanks for the tutorial.

  5. I'll be back next time I need to put a pull back into a zip, either intentionally or because child has wondered into sewing room and pulled a zip at the wrong mid-project moment!


I love comments. My heart goes pitter-patter every time there is a new one.